Even though your pet looks perfectly healthy, they could be at risk for heart disease.
Did you know that:
*Up to 15% of younger dogs have heart disease?
*As your dog ages, the risk of heart disease increases?
*60% of aged dogs may have heart disease?
*In cats, heart disease is often a silent disease, which means there are no symptoms and may go undiagnosed until it is too late?
*Because it is often undiagnosed, the rate of heart disease in cats is unknown. However, it may be present in up to 15% of cats?
Some of the signs of heart disease you could see at home may include:
*A decrease or reluctance to play or exercise
*Lethargy more tired than usual
*Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, especially with exercise or excitement
*Collapsing or fainting
Some of the signs of heart disease that can only be detected by your veterinarian as part of a thorough examination include:
*Gallop rhythm in cats
*Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
*Audible sounds between the heartbeat (murmur)
Dogs and cats are most commonly diagnosed with one of three heart conditions:
*Mitral valve disease- the most common heart disease in dogs. One of the valves inside the heart becomes leaky and allows blood to flow in the wrong direction through the heart.
*Dilated cardiomyopathy- the heart muscle becomes weak and stretched, decreasing the heart’s ability to pump blood through the body
*Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy- this is more common in cats. The heart becomes thickened, making it difficult to pump the blood properly through the body.
If undiagnosed or untreated, any of these types of heart disease may eventually result in heart failure. Tell your veterinarian if your pet has any of the symptoms described above. With early diagnosis, your pet can live a longer and healthier life.
How do we diagnose heart disease in a dog or cat? Especially if they aren’t having any symptoms, as is often the case in cats?
A complete physical examination and listening to your pet’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope can help provide your veterinarian with clues that your pet may have some heart-related issue. Also, it is important to take your pet to the veterinarian regularly, at least twice a year, as early diagnosis and treatment will help your pet have a longer, happier, and healthier life.
We now have a revolutionary new way to diagnose heart disease in your pet. By taking a small sample of blood, we can measure the presence of the same cadiac marker that indicates heart disease in people. The Cardiopet proBNP test can help your veterinarian diagnose heart disease earlier, and in cats, before any symptoms are present.
Your veterinarian may want to additional tests to evaluate your pet’s heart, based on your pet’s examination, symptoms, and test results. These may include x-rays, an electrocardiograph (ECG), an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of your pet’s heart), and a consultation with a cardiologist.
Certain breeds may be more prone to heart disease. For dogs, these include:
*Basset hound, Beagle, Bernese mountain dog, Bloodhound, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chihuahua, Collie, Dachshund, Doberman pincher, German shepherd, Golden retriever, Great Dane, Labrador retriever, Poodle, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, some spaniels, some terriers, Weimaraner
For cats, these include:
*Heart disease affects all types of cats, including domestic shorthair and longhair cats. However, purebred cats such as the American shorthair, Maine coon, Persian, Siamese, Sphynx, and Ragdoll are especially prone to heart disease.
*Additionally, feline heart disease can strike at any age and often “silently” so it is important that your cat gets regular checkups by your veterinarian.
What can you do to help protect your pet’s heart?
*Look for any changes in your pets’ behavior as they age and notify your veterinarian about them as soon as possible- don’t wait till their vaccinations are due as that might be months away!
*Watch for changes in appetite and exercise and again, notify your veterinarian about them immediately.
*Watch for the signs of heart disease and if you see them, let your veterinarian know about it right away.
*Know your breed- some breeds are more prone to heart disease.
*If your veterinarian hears a heart murmur, ask about heart disease.
*Take your pet for a checkup twice a year and have bloodwork performed at least once a year.
While there is not a cure for heart disease, early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in the quality of your pet’s life!